Apple has released a 90 second commercial that features a Walt Whitman poem and narration by Robin Williams. The end of the poem asks the question, “What good . . . [is] me, [is] life?” The answer given is, “That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” (Watch the commercial here.)
O Me! O Life!
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
– Leaves of Grass (1892)
Whitman can be given credit that there is a kernel of truth in what he said. Every one of us indeed gets to contribute a verse to the great poem of the universe; but, is that a sufficient answer? If life is a play in which I exist, have individuality, and can contribute a verse, who is the audience to whom I play? Is it enough to contribute to something that, in the end, does not have a purpose? Another poetic work says,
So God created human beings in his own image.
In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Genesis 1:27, 28 (New Living Translation).
Psalm 23:6 (in the King James Version for those who, like me, memorized it in this poetic way) says,
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Taken together these last two poems suggest that men and women who view God as Lord and shepherd over humankind will look after life on earth and then live with God forever. That is a verse worth contributing. Let those who have ears, hear, and choose the path of life.